Kyabram was forced to overcome more than just opponent Benalla on Saturday in order to extend its Goulburn Valley League winning streak to 31 matches.
The Bombers struggled to find accuracy and efficiency when moving the ball forward, kicking 4.10 in the first term despite controlling most of the play.
The bigger bodies of the reigning premier dominated Benalla’s younger brigade across the ground, highlighted by a passage of play early in the second quarter.
Baily MacDonald, in just his second senior game for the Saints, found himself in a head-to-head contest for the ball with hardened Kyabram star Brad Mangan.
While MacDonald reached the football first, Mangan never looked like losing the battle, forcing his smaller opponent to fumble before brushing him off with ease.
It was just one of a plethora of contested possessions the Bombers won throughout the day.
The margin finally blew out, as it had threatened to do from the outset, once Paul Newman’s forward targets found their mark.
‘‘We wasted a fair few opportunities and really kept them in the game for a while,’’ he said.
‘‘But I thought our attack on the ball was really good all day.’’
Mangan roamed across the half-forward line during the clash, while Billy Burstin and Liam Ogden proved too silky for their direct opponents to accumulate a mountain of disposals.
Defenders Josh Vick and the returning Jason Morgan strangled many of Benalla’s limited forward entries, with Newman especially pleased with how the latter had carried himself.
‘‘I was really, really happy with how he (Morgan) went about it,’’ he said.
‘‘He probably played 70-75 per cent of the game, but handled it well and moved very freely.’’
After spraying plenty of shots on goal early on, Kayne Pettifer straightened up late to kick eight majors for the game, with Burstin (three goals) and Ogden (two) providing ample support.
For Benalla, an inability to navigate Kyabram’s defensive press meant it was constantly under the pump.
The build up of pressure continually caused mistakes and it was only the Bombers’ inaccuracy which kept the final margin to 66 points.
‘‘We were, for want of a better word, shell-shocked early on,’’ Saints coach Luke Morgan said.
‘‘We didn’t cope well enough with Kyabram’s game style and didn’t really come to play, which was disappointing.’’
Brody Webster and David Mennen did all they could from deep in defense, while Morgan attacked the contest with vigour, as did Sam Martyn before leaving the field with an ankle injury in the third.
Aside from a run of three goals to finish the first half, the Saints simply did not look dangerous enough in attack, with big targets Nick Warnock and Jordan Wolff quiet.
‘‘I thought it was positive that we took the game right up to the best side in the competition, to be within striking distance at half time was pleasing,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘A lot of Kyabram’s players are in an age bracket where they’re coming into their best years of footy, and that’s probably not the case at Benalla, we’re a much younger side.
‘‘But we’ll learn and move on and become bigger and better.’’
Any other team which monopolised possession of the football like the Bombers did would be unhappy about not massively boosting its percentage.
But when you never lose a game, percentage is the last thing that matters.
‘‘It did seem like we dominated the game and squandered some opportunities,’’ Newman said.
‘‘But we kicked away in the last term and the scoreboard was probably justified in the end.’’
The big games keep on coming for Benalla with Euroa next, while Kyabram will chase consecutive win number 32 on the road against Echuca.
‘‘We’re looking forward to the trip up to Echuca to play in front of a big crowd,’’ Newman said.
Kyabram 4.10 6.12 10.14 16.18 (114)
Benalla 0.1 3.4 5.6 7.6 (48)
Tyler Maher’s best:
Kyabram: Billy Burstin, Brad Mangan, Kayne Pettifer, Liam Ogden, Lachie Smith, Rhys Clark.
Benalla: Brody Webster, Luke Morgan, David Mennen, Pat Robinson, Chris Welsh, Michael Ryan.
Kyabram: Kayne Pettifer 8, Billy Burstin 3, Liam Ogden 2, Brad Mangan, Brad Whitford, Luke Morris.
Benalla: Lachie Thompson, Cody Crawford 2, Zac Pallpratt, Jordan Wolff, Luke Morgan.